Science began in the modern age by a conversation among élite natural philosophers. It began in private chambers, and then extended through mail and later through printed journals. Nowadays, the great conversation of science involves millions of individuals all around the earth. Big science has replaced small science and the quest for excellence and quality has replaced the elitism of earlier years. In short, all seems well.
On closer look, however, the great conversation has been distorted by a number of factors which, in one way relate to the other facet of science: the quest for visibility, reputation, prestige and authority. The issue is that science does need benchmarks to maintain the competitive atmosphere that fuels its intellectual energy and leads to constant innovations. However, these benchmarks need to be carefully designed. Otherwise, the quest for reputation and visibility begins to diverge from the quest for reputation and visibility. In particular, vast segments of science can be left neglected and this, in turn, leads to the slowing down and even sterilization of these & quot;peripheral & quot; areas of science.
One of the main efforts in science, right now, is to redress this state of affairs. The best way to do it is through Open Access and the designing of evaluation tools that complement and correct the few tools that exist presently. SciELO, incidentally, is precisely pursuing this course. Examples taken from a variety of Open Access projects will allow sketching the form of the public space needed by the
quot; of science.